Tigers, Reds showing interest in Laird
Texas on lookout for pitching in return for veteran backstop
ARLINGTON -- The Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers appear to have shown the most interest in Rangers catcher Gerald Laird, according to Major League sources.General manager Jon Daniels said Thursday he is having conversations with a number of clubs about the Rangers' catching depth. He declined to discuss specifics, but it appears the Rangers are moving closer to getting something done and it likely involves Laird.
Teams have also expressed interest in Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez. But the Rangers appear to be more interested in trading Laird, who is eligible for arbitration. He could make around $3 million next year and can also be a free agent after the 2010 season."We've touched base with everybody, and have had more extensive dialogue with some clubs," Daniels said. "We have a good handle on our options. We have a sense of the type of deals we can move on. We've had second and third conversations and followup conversations with clubs. There's a potential for something to happen." The Rangers have also had discussions with the Red Sox, but they appear more interested in Saltalamacchia or Teagarden. They have also no interest in trading Clay Buchholz. The Rangers have interest in some of their other young pitchers, including Michael Bowden and Justin Masterson. The Houston Astros are looking for catching help, but don't have much in the way of young pitching to offer. The Rangers are looking for pitching in return for any deal involving their catchers. "Pitching is our priority this offseason," Daniels said. The Reds' most appealing young pitcher is reliever Joshua Roenicke, a hard-throwing right-hander who was 6-2 with a 2.82 ERA, 13 saves and 71 strikeouts in 61 innings between Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville this past season. He appeared in five games for the Reds in September, and he is high on the Rangers' list. Other Reds pitchers of interest are right-handed starters Daryl Thompson and Homer Bailey, and relievers Carlos Fisher, Pedro Viola and Robert Manuel. Viola is a left-hander who was converted to a starter at the end of this past season, and, in seven starts, was 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA in Double-A. In 33 innings, he gave up 27 hits, nine walks and struck out 30. The Tigers' two best young pitchers that are Major League ready are right-handers Zach Miner and Chris Lambert. Miner was 8-5 with a 4.27 ERA in 45 games -- including 13 starts -- in 2008, while Lambert, a former first-round pick for the Cardinals, was 1-2 with a 5.66 ERA. He was 12-8 with a 3.50 ERA in Triple-A Toledo. But it was the Tigers' overall lack of good young pitching that made them take a chance on former Rangers pitcher Armando Galarraga last April, and he became one of their most reliable starters. Other young arms in the Tigers system that are raw but could enter into the discussion are right-handers Luis Marte, Guillermo Moscoso and Alfredo Figaro. But none of them have pitched in the Major Leagues or are deemed close to being ready for the big league level. Laird hit .276 with six home runs and 41 RBIs in 95 games and 344 at-bats in 2008. Over the past three years, he has the fourth-best percentage (36.3) of throwing out basestealers among Major League catchers.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.